Plurality of Law and DevelopmentSymposium

Empowerment of indigenous and ethnic groups

Comparing cases on land use under the ACHPR and ECHR

Ten years ago, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decided on the admissibility of the case Handölsdalen Sami Village and Others v Sweden dealing with the land use of the Sami and their reindeer herds. In the same year, the Endorois case was decided by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AComHPR), concerning the land use of another indigenous people, the Endorois. The outcome of these two …

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Plurality of Law and DevelopmentSymposium

A slow revolution to protect the poor and vulnerable?

The International Monetary Fund’s Social Spending Strategy 2019

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the “single most influential international actor not only in relation to fiscal policy but also to social protection”. This is how the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights has recently characterized the IMF. The statement recognizes the importance of IMF policy-making for the sustainable financing of social protection frameworks. In June 2019 the IMF acknowledged this role with the adoption of the …

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Plurality of Law and DevelopmentSymposium

Increasing the benefits, reducing the costs

Adding competitiveness to the theory and practice of free trade agreements and regional integration in Africa

With an increase in the spread and impact of independent regulatory agencies, Africa now has a nascent but significant network of competition authorities and other economic regulators.  This growth in African regulatory practice and influence contributes to the value of adding the factor of competitiveness to the theory and practice of African regional integration.  To add competitiveness may well increase the total benefits and speed of these developments of multinational …

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Plurality of Law and DevelopmentSymposium

The plurality of law and development

Reflections on a field in transformation

As a legal field, law and development is often traced back to the movement of US-American scholars and practitioners in the 1960s and 1970s, both epitomized and criticized by David Trubek’s seminal article “Scholars in Self-Estrangement”. While this strand remains an important reference, the story of law and development is arguably broader, more plural and more global. The plurality of law and development is marked by a variety of national …

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Current Developments

Only a small step forward

The shy contribution of the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement to the ISDS reform

On June 30th, 2019, the European Union signed a trade agreement and an investment protection agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. This is the third time the EU has used its exclusive competence in the field of foreign direct investment (FDI) to conclude an investment protection agreement (IPA) vis-à-vis an extra-European country, after CETA’s investment chapter and the EU-Singapore IPA. With this “new generation” of investment treaties, the EU …

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Current Developments

Repatriated to “Prison”

Landgrabbing as a tool of segregation in Myanmar

The Rohingya, a religious and ethnic minority in Myanmar, have been systematically persecuted and discriminated against for decades. The government and the military (“Tatmadaw”) enforced various measures against the Rohingya, such as forced labor, denial of education and basic healthcare, and extreme restriction on traveling, and have made parts of Rakhine State an “open-air prison” for many Rohingya. The Tatmadaw’s repeated rounds of gruesome violence against them significantly exacerbated the …

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Current Developments

Future of whaling vis-à-vis Japan’s withdrawal from IWC

Japan conducted its first successful commercial whale hunt on July 1, 2019 since thirty years, against significant resistance from the international community, after it had formally withdrawn from the International Convention on the Regulations of Whaling (ICRW) in December 2018 by exercising the ‘opting out’ clause. The recommencement of hunting poses pertinent questions for international law: What legal impact will the withdrawal have on the work of the International Whaling …

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BofaxeCurrent Developments

Playing with Fire

Is the aid pledged by the G7 an offer Brazil’s President Bolsonaro cannot refuse?

“Our house is burning”, French President Macron found graphic words to address the wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, which have reached threatening levels in the past weeks. 80,000 fires this year alone have resulted in the loss of approximately 350,000 hectares of rainforest. Notably, Brazilian President Bolsonaro is known to support the ‘slash-and-burn’ agriculture, which is responsible for most of the fires, and only initiated a two month ban of …

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Current Developments

What’s next to preserve the linguistic richness of Indigenous Peoples?

Beyond the International Year of Indigenous Languages

This year, 2019, marks the International Year of Indigenous Languages. Based on the United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution 71/178, it represents a massive effort to finally raise awareness on the invaluable richness of Indigenous languages. This initiative is primarily led by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), but it involves all the UN bodies directly dealing with Indigenous Peoples’ rights (e.g., the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous …

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Current Developments

Manual scavenging: outlawed, yet persisting

The stinking legacy of suffocation and stigma captures the degrading practice of Manual Scavenging in India. Twenty-six years after this repulsive practice has been outlawed by the Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, there are still 182,505 manual scavengers across India, with 740,048 households using the services of manual scavengers for clearing out human excreta. Alarmingly, this number does not include septic tanks, public sewers, and railway …

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Current Developments

A chain as strong as its weakest link

Climate science and legal causation after the Mozambique floods

In spring 2019, Mozambique was hit by a large-scale disaster. Cyclones Idai and Kenneth tore through the country on 14 March and 25 April, resulting in heavy rainfall and causing major flooding in five of the country’s eleven provinces. The disaster had devastating impacts on affected communities’ enjoyment of their human rights. UNICEF’s Humanitarian Situation Report, published on 31 July 2019, estimates that 1.7 million people in Mozambique continue to …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

A rule to catch them all

How European policies on combating abuse of rights in tax law aim at countering cynicism by non-state actors

One of the legal regimes where cynicism is most prevalent in the eye of the public is tax law. After the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ and ‘Paradise Papers’ public debate on fair taxation of companies was rekindled at the World Economic Forum 2019, where Rutger Bregman stressed that it is cynical when people talk about philanthropic engagement, equality and transparency, yet ‘almost no one raises the real issue of tax avoidance’. …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

Back in time to Roman Law

Thoughts on an analogy of ‘Abuse of Right’ in International Law

The prohibition of abuse of right calls into question that branch of legal positivism that sees law as a ‘pure’ discipline with necessarily no connection with morality (the so-called exclusive positivism). Law prohibits something that is allowed within its own system, but that is rejected according to other rules (the rules of morality). Is the law therefore flawed? Is it cynical? One might object and say that if the prohibition …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

How to be cynical: some suggestions

Livestream of Prof. Gerry Simpson’s Keynote Lecture at the Conference ‘Cynical International Law?’, 6 September 2019

Watch here the livestream of Prof. Gerry Simpson’s Keynote Lecture, opening the Working Group of Young Scholars in Public International Law’s (Arbeitskreis junger Völkerrechtswissenschaftler*innen – AjV) and the German Society of International Law’s (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationales Recht – DGIR) joint conference Cynical International Law? Abuse and Circumvention in Public International and European Law held at Freie Universität Berlin on 6-7 September 2019. Find the conference program here. What might …

For further live updates on the conference on Friday and Saturday, follow Völkerrechtsblog’s Twitter account.

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Cynical International LawSymposium

Cynicism? Yes, please!

Embracing cynicism at the International Criminal Court

Debates surrounding cynicism in international law have an inherently negative focus. But why not try to take something positive-constructive out of the cynicism an institution is experiencing? Since there are few institutions, which are currently facing more cynical backlash than the International Criminal Court (ICC/Court), this piece will take a look at the reasons and at the question how cynicism manifests itself in the context of the Court and how …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

All’s fair in the law of war?

Legal cynicism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

On June 1, 2018, Razan Al-Najjar, a twenty-one-year-old Palestinian paramedic, was killed by Israeli fire during demonstrations along the Israel–Gaza border. Her death triggered intense debates concerning the facts and circumstances of the shooting: was Al-Najjar the target of the Israeli fire, as several human rights organizations concluded, or was the deadly bullet directed at other violent demonstrators, as the Israeli military found? Was she standing alone, with only other …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

In international law we (do not) trust

The persistent rejection of economic and social rights as a manifestation of cynicism

Economic and Social Rights (ESRs) are the unloved and unwanted last born child of the human rights family. Despite a promising start in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the UDHR), ESRs still retain a second class status in most national jurisdictions. What explains this cynicism with which ESRs are (still) regarded? This blogpost analyzes how the skeptical gaze through which ESRs are often viewed legitimizes (or attempts) to legitimize …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

The Edge of Enlightenment

The EU’s struggle with post-fascist cynicism

Recently, Harvard professor Steven Pinker’s book “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress”, which explores the effect of the Enlightenment on contemporary societies worldwide and also anti-Enlightenment movements in the West, became an international bestseller. Applying his findings about the age-old symbiotic relationship between certain elements of “Western civilization” and (post-) Fascism to certain developments both at the EU level and in individual member states, we can …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

An ideal at sea

International law and a ‘conflict through norm-genesis’ approach

International law is supposed to establish peace and prevent inter-state conflicts. At the same time, it is the central means for states to legitimize and communicate their claims in respect of the international community. For instance, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was designed to act as the ‘constitution for the oceans’ and to ‘promote the maintenance of international peace and security’ (Koh, 1982). Today, …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

From speaking truth to power to speaking power’s truth

Transnational judicial activism in an increasingly illiberal world

From San José to Karlsruhe, Strasbourg to New Delhi, in both the Global North and South, judges have been at the forefront of the establishment of a new jus gentium common to all humankind. Implicit in this narrative, however, lies the idea that transnational judicial activism has inherent progressive outcomes: the rule of law, human rights, or liberalism tout court are the necessary products of these new forms of judicial …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

International law beyond cynicism and critique

A plea for a legal scholarship that offers alternatives instead of reinforcing the status quo

Cynics do not have to look far: critical international law has uncovered the ways in which the forces of colonialism and imperialism have been present in the international legal system from its foundation to the present. According to David Kennedy, it is not only cynical use of law by despots but experts, including legal scholars, that –subtly but surely – enable, reproduce, legalize and legitimize this international legal system. With …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

Cynical International Law?

Announcement of the Online Symposium and Keynote Lecture Livestream

Cynicism and its relation to international law is a question that has so far not comprehensively been studied. Cynicism has been used in a cursory fashion by international lawyers, e.g. when denouncing the invocation of legal justifications by certain actors as ‘cynical’. Others have applied the concept to international lawyers and their attitude towards their own profession. But the concept of cynicism might also be applied to international law itself: …

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Interview

With a diplomatic solution, there would be no loser.

An interview with Rüdiger Wolfrum on the situation in the Strait of Hormuz

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the most important waterways worldwide. Nearly one fifth of the global transport of oil and about one quarter of the production of liquefied natural gas are shipped through the Strait that is only a few kilometers wide. On 19 July 2019, Iran detained the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero in this strait. Iran argued that, among other things, the ship had collided with a …

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Current Developments

Handschlag oder Kniefall?

Ein Kommentar zum Revised Draft Treaty on Business and Human Rights

Am 16.07.2019 hat die UN-Arbeitsgruppe „Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights“ (OEIWG) einen überarbeiteten Entwurf [revised draft (RD)] für einen Vertrag zum Thema Unternehmen und Menschenrechte veröffentlicht. Es handelt sich hierbei um eine zweite, überarbeitete Version, nachdem der sog. zero draft (ZD) exakt ein Jahr zuvor veröffentlicht wurde. Der neue Entwurf enthält einige weitgehende Zugeständnisse an Industriestaaten und Unternehmen, die …

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Current Developments

Entzug von Mitgliedschaftsrechten zur Implementierung von Demokratie

Die Suspendierung des Sudan durch die Afrikanische Union

Im Juni 2019 suspendierte die Afrikanische Union (AU) die Mitgliedschaftsrechte der Republik Sudan nach einem Staatsstreich des Militärs gegen den langjährigen Machthaber Umar al-Bashir. Hierdurch machte die AU erneut von einem Mechanismus Gebrauch, der einerseits dazu bestimmt ist, die verfassungsrechtlich vorgesehenen Regierungsstrukturen in den Mitgliedstaaten der AU, besonders vor gewaltsamen Umstürzen, zu schützen, und der andererseits die zügige Implementierung demokratischer Verhältnisse nach solchen Umstürzen befördern soll. Im Falle des Sudan …

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BofaxeCurrent Developments

Una-Fjord-able: Why Trump cannot buy Greenland

Many people thought it was a belated April’s Fools joke: US media reported that US President Donald Trump is considering to purchase Greenland, currently an autonomous region of the Kingdom of Denmark. Since Mr. Trump tweeted that given Denmark’ Prime Minister “would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting (…) for another time…”, we know that the idea was dead serious. “Make …

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BofaxeCurrent Developments

Alle Wege führen nach Dublin

Über die rechtswidrige Rückschiebung eines afghanischen Flüchtlings nach Griechenland

Im Jahr 2018 einigte sich Deutschland mit Griechenland in Form eines Verwaltungsabkommens darauf, dass aus Griechenland über Österreich nach Deutschland einreisende Flüchtlinge unter bestimmten Voraussetzungen unverzüglich nach Athen zurückgeführt werden dürfen. Im Zuge dessen verweigerte die Bundespolizeidirektion einem aus Afghanistan stammenden Flüchtling nach einer Kontrolle die Weiterreise und sorgte für seine Rückführung nach Griechenland, wo er zuerst einen Asylantrag gestellt hatte. Im Rahmen des einstweiligen Rechtsschutzes geht nun das Verwaltungsgericht …

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Interview

Bei einer diplomatischen Lösung gibt es keinen Verlierer

Interview mit Rüdiger Wolfrum zur Lage in der Straße von Hormus

Die Straße von Hormus ist einer der wichtigsten Wasserwege. Knapp ein Fünftel der globalen Öl-Transporte und etwa ein Viertel der weltweiten Produktion von Flüssiggas passieren jährlich die wenige Kilometer breite Schifffahrtsroute. Am 19. Juli 2019 setze der Iran in dieser Meerenge den unter britischer Flagge fahrenden Tanker Stena Impero fest. Von iranischer Seite heißt es, das Schiff habe unter anderem ein iranisches Fischerboot gerammt und anschließend nicht auf dessen Notsignale reagiert. …

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Current Developments

Poor due to climate impacts

The threat of climate apartheid looms large over the world, says new UN Report

UN special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Phillip Alston, recently released a report assessing the impact of climate change on human rights, especially the rights of people livingin poverty, who are also the most vulnerable to climatic catastrophes. Poor people are most exposed to climate vulnerability because of where they live, their livelihood activities or lack of resources to cope with climatic shocks. It leaves people in destruction, …

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BofaxeCurrent Developments

Land and identity

On India’s revocation of Jammu & Kashmir’s special constitutional status

“There will be chaos if our identity is compromised”. This statement by Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), shows that the long-simmering conflict over the region (see also Bofax Nr. 517E “Trading Blows”) has once again reached boiling point. Juxtaposing the interplay of land and minority identity in Kashmir with the current ascendancy of land rights in international law, we see that …

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BofaxeCurrent Developments

Between policy and reality

On the challenges of being a refugee in Asia

Since the violent events of August 2017, which triggered one of the most recent mass exoduses of Rohingyas from Rakhine state in Myanmar, the Rohingya diaspora continues to rise. Many are still stranded in Bangladesh, some have managed to risk their lives on boats and journeyed across the seas to reach Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, while others have attempted to flee to Australia, only to be trapped on Manus Island. …

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Current Developments

Are EU misappropriation sanctions dead?

On 11 July 2019, the EU’s General Court delivered seven analogous judgments in a series of Ukraine-related sanctions cases, including that concerning Ukraine’s ex-president Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych is best known for fleeing Ukraine for Russia amidst mass protests in early 2014, leaving behind a private zoo and a mansion with gilded bathrooms. The General Court struck down the EU’s sanctions against Yanukovych and a number of other Ukrainian former public …

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Current Developments

After the trial is before the trial

The ICJ’s Jadhav case and its uncertain domestic implementation

The interplay of international court decisions and their domestic implications is currently challenged in the Kulbhushan Jadhav Case (India v. Pakistan). In this case, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered its verdict on 17 July, 2019. It concerns a 49-year-old former Indian Naval Officer, who was sentenced to death by a Pakistani Military Court on 11 April 2017, on charges of espionage and terrorism. The ICJ ruled against the …

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Current Developments

Finally holding the World Bank accountable?

Analyzing Jam v International Financial Corporation from a TWAIL Perspective

The World Bank (WB), a financial institution born in the Bretton Woods Hotel at the end of the Second World War which enjoys far-reaching immunity due to its status as international organisation, must respond to the US justice system. This was the decision issued on February 27, 2019 by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) with a wide margin of 7 votes to 1 in the case of …

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Current Developments

Identifying customary international law from the ivory tower?

Self-defence against non-state actors and why doctrinal precision actually matters

The discussion about the right of self-defence of states against non-state actors is in flux. Among the reasons for that could be new types of terrorism and conflicts which have emerged since the entry into force of the UN Charter. Cross-border impacts and the number of actors involved have increased significantly. These factors, combined with the UN Security Council’s inaction and the increasing threat from terrorist groups, are putting a …

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ABC of OPTBook ReviewSymposium

Response: Critiquing in the Light of The ABC of the OPT

We are grateful to Verfassungblog for dedicating a symposium to The ABC of the OPT; to Anne Peters and Alexandra Kemmerer for their generosity of mind, indeed the contextual mindfulness in which they held a launching event for the book in Berlin (sponsored by both the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law, International Law‘s Berlin Office and Recht im Kontext (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and wrote the introduction to this symposium; and …

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ABC of OPTBook ReviewSymposium

“Say My Name”: The Politics of Not Naming

At first sight, the “ABC of the OPT” creates the impression that this is yet another book written exclusively by Israeli academics about a situation that has profoundly transformed the framework of occupation law—and international humanitarian law in general—a long time ago. This first impression is underpinned by the use of hegemonically loaded terminology, structure, and choice of entries and sources. Despite the many nuances academics employ to draw a …

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ABC of OPTBook ReviewSymposium

The broken promise of belligerent occupation law

The ABC of the OPT, the award-winning new publication by three outstanding Israeli scholars and jurists – Orna Ben-Naftali, Michael Sfard and Hedi Viterbo –demonstrates, in a masterly fashion, the use and abuse of the laws of belligerent occupation as a masquerade for raw power and as a tool for oppression. The authors illustrate, using the format of a legal lexicon dedicated to specific legal terms and rhetorical devices (or newspeak), …

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ABC of OPTBook ReviewSymposium

Phantom sovereignty and the imaginary version of international law

In the ABC of the OPT, Orna Ben-Naftali, Michael Sfard and Hedi Viterbo offer a guidebook for the legal tourist – a narrated cartography to the strange legal planet that has become Israel/Palestine, governed by hundreds of military and civil officials that harbor wide discretion and a flexible rule that I call phantom sovereignty. Shaped as a lexicon, it includes entries that offer both a thematic and a chronological history …

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ABC of OPTBook ReviewSymposium

Mobilizing the untapped capacity of international law

It is a particular honour to be asked to contribute to the Book Review Symposium at Verfassungsblog because of the occasion: the arrival of an outstanding work on international law that addresses – dispassionately, authoritatively and comprehensively – one of the most pervasive and most tragic issues of our time: Israel’s interminable occupation of Palestine. This book du jour – The ABC of the OPT – by Orna, Michael and …

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ABC of OPTBook ReviewSymposium

From “Assigned Residence” to “Zone”

Introduction to the Book Review Symposium on The ABC of the OPT

Israel’s occupation or “control” (as the book prefers to call it) of Palestinian Territory that began with six days in June 1967, presents a depressing and tragic political and moral conundrum. For the international lawyer, it is also a legal laboratory of global relevance. “The Israeli occupation of Palestine embodies a fateful and troubling paradox regarding international law that we must acknowledge and think our way through”, writes Michael Lynk, …

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Current Developments

Strafverfolgung ohne Jurisdiktion?

Das Legitimitätsdilemma des IStGH angesichts der Rohingya-Ermittlungen

Die Chef-Anklägerin des Internationalen Strafgerichtshofs (IStGH) sorgte mit ihrem neusten Antrag vergangene Woche für einigen Wirbel. Am letzten Donnerstag ersuchte Fatou Bensouda die Vorverfahrenskammer um Erlaubnis, mit ihren Ermittlungen um die Geschehnisse in Bangladesch/Myanmar im Jahr 2017 fortfahren zu dürfen. Damit befindet sich der Fall nun in jener Phase, an der die gerichtliche Aufarbeitung der Situation in Afghanistan im April scheiterte, nachdem sich der IStGH in seinem wegweisenden Beschluss gegen die …

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Current Developments

In the wake of the ICJ’s Opinion in Chagos: Britannia waives the rules

The United Kingdom recently reacted against the International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion on the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius. Has the UK abandoned the international rule of law? A unanimous verdict sows division On 25 February 2019, the ICJ handed down its Advisory Opinion on the UK’s separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius on 8 November 1965. The Opinion stated clearly that the excision of Chagos …